I looked at the last post [“Which is the greater danger? Heresy or Blind Compliance”] and I had to say, “Let people make mistakes.” I completely agree with the concept of letting people take ownership of their faith even though they will and do make mistakes. And that ownership only happens when people learn for themselves. But that word “for” is a big one. It is “for themselves” not “by themselves.”
That means I don’t think it is helpful or responsible to let people wallow around in sloppy thinking or fall prey to deceptive thinking. It happens too easily.
I’m going to start sketching out a formula for what I try to do, and I hope others will add comments and ideas and raise up examples that others have come up with.
One – Pray – The is a holy process that God’s Spirit is involved with. It starts here, grows here and ends here.
Two – Scripture – Model a balanced approach to reading the Bible (primarily) and other writings.
Three – Vision – Supply vision for the purpose of faith and what it means to be a Christ follower in your context.
Four – Groups – Create and support opportunities for individualized learning and conversation. Give general guidance to these experiences, but don’t manage them.
Five – Service – Encourage and give opportunities to people to practice what they believe.
Six – Listen – Leaders learn from what the larger body is discerning. This allows the body to mature spiritually.
Start process over…
This was just a quick shot at the process… It is an inexact process and certainly full of holes. Help me with them. But then… maybe the holes are the faith part…
Posted in bible, change, church, discipleship, doubt, emerging church, God, jacob's well, Models of Ministry, prayer, precarious, risk, Serve, unlearning, Vision, what if
That’s the Borg Cube from Star Trek. Remember them? They are the ones who cruise the galaxy and ‘assimilate’ everyone so they are no longer who they were, but who the Borg are. No one wants to be one, except those already in. When we talk about becoming ‘a member of the church’ people look at us like we are the Borg invading their otherwise happy universe. In fact, even of our ‘regulars’ at Jacob’s Well (who invest generous amounts of time, passion, expertise and money in the community) react like, “You’re kidding, aren’t you? We aren’t going to do that ‘membership thing’ are we?”
Yet as David Stark taught me some years ago, the problem isn’t that people won’t commit anymore, people commit to all sorts of things all the time. Got a cell phone contract? I rest my case. The question people ask is “Is it worth my investment of time, money, energy, etc to make the commitment?’ Likewise, when I talk about what happens when we do commit to something and understand the truth of our relationship to the growing, developing organism that we call Jacob’s Well they think it is great. When I ask them to think of being a member not as having their names in the book, but like my arm is a member of my body – the arm is lifeless and both are incomplete without each other – then they get it.
Clearly committing to a movement and a community they believe in isn’t the problem. The language is. “Member” triggers an allergic reaction that says, “Oh oh, they are just like all those other churches. They really are just an institution and want us to keep them alive.”
I believe committing to a local church in a very concrete covenanting way isn’t only a good thing, I think it is an essential part of committing to a life of following Christ. The local church is the manifestation of Christ’s body in a specific location. It is the means through which God can touch the lives of people in all fullness. We are looking at ways to talk about and do it.
Before I say what we are thinking of doing I would like to hear your thoughts, reactions and experiences.
Fridays are the closest thing I have to a Saturday. Being a pastor means that weekends are work time. But when things are relatively caught up (and ‘relatively’ is the operative term because there is always more that ‘could be done,’ if not ‘should be done’) Fridays can be a little slower. I spent the morning out on the back porch, enjoying the birds, the air and a couple of homemade Americanos with my wife, Kris, talking about impending school stuff, reading the paper, and pulling together loose ends of our service on Sunday at Jacob’s Well. Basically, mulling over and making sense of the different parts of my world, and doing it at the speed of life.
I’ve been getting a lot of input recently from many and various sources to make sure I have a sabbath (day of rest) each week. My question is “Why not two? Isn’t that what a weekend is?” But for now, one will have to do; I’m not very good at even taking that. A weekly sabbath isn’t just a nice idea, it’s essential. One of the deadliest enemies of a pastor is pumping out of the well when you aren’t putting anything in. I can’t imagine it is different for anyone.
So today there are a few tasks to take care of, but I spent the morning watching the dew shine on the grass, watching chickadees, cardinals, goldfinch and grosbeaks working over our feeders, sparrows washing in the bath, squirrels making the leap from the birch to the silver maple. I’ve still got the State Fair to go to this evening, a run around Lake Nokomis and some time with my family ahead. I think I’ll be ready for what’s next.
The point isn’t what I do on my sabbath, or even how long it is exactly, but what I don’t do and how open what I’m not doing allows me to become. To stop, or even pause, is a first step to unlearning. It permits different questions, priorities, perspectives to arise. It walks around the inside of the box I live in most of my week and kicks at the walls, almost always opening windows in some of them. I suppose it is pretty hard to not live in a box of some sort as long as there are windows to see out of.
Puts a whole new spin on “Honor the Sabbath, and keep it holy.” Exodus 20.8
A number of years ago I heard Jim Collins (Good to Great & Built to Last, both get strong recommendations from me) speak at a conference in Colorado. I wrote down this quote that has plagued (and blessed) my life and ministry ever since, “Are you willing to let go of a hard fought expertise, lose the competence you’ve invested years in, in order to master a new expertise and competence that can take you to a new level?”
It’s all about ‘unlearning,’ recognizing that what you know and have is not always the way to the next step, but sometimes the roadblock to it. This is tough for me, but so intriguing and so inviting. My problem is that I don’t like to look stupid (translation: incompetent). At some visceral level I’d rather keep doing what I know how to do and improve it, and maybe kid myself that I can simultaneously learn the new thing and gradually let it replace the old one. That isn’t impossible, but the facts are that I’m too busy (not proud of that) to keep up the old and master the new, and my ties to what I already know undermines my investment in the new. It’s like learning to use your left hand when your right hand is still perfectly able to do everything.
God is in favor of new things. God lets old things die; sheds a tear, but lets them go. Creation implies brand new, not gradually evolving from the old. Resurrection isn’t reworking, it is death and a brand new life.
Another of my life verses:The Lord says, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago.Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now!” Isaiah 43.18-19a TEV
As the pastor of Jacob’s Well (www.jacobs-well.net) unlearning is more important than learning for me right now because I’m getting plenty of new ideas, hopes and inspirations. The obstacle is clearing room in my head and heart to allow those great things to take root and grow.
I’ll chase down some of the areas I’m trying to unlearn in postings to come. I’d love to hear what others are willing to unlearn, and what it is that is so attractive, so promising, so wonderful that they are willing to go down that risky path. It must be a treasure of great worth!